IFA President Tim Cullinan said that recent comments by Minister Eamon Ryan on cutting cow numbers are at odds with previous commitments from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste that the Government would not be seeking any reduction in cattle numbers in Ireland.
Minister Ryan’s comments on Virgin media during the week reveal that his real objective is to reduce cow numbers in Ireland to appease those with an anti-animal farming agenda in his own party.
“Since 1999, the number of cars in Ireland has increased by 75%, the number of plane journeys has increased by over 150% while the number of cattle has more or less stayed the same. Yet, the Minister wants fewer cows. The average cattle herd in Ireland is less than 80 animals but the Minister wants these farmers to cut back on their production from which they derive their income. No other sector is being asked to take a direct hit on their incomes and farmers, like all other households, will be impacted by the mitigation measures in the other sectors such as energy and transport,” he said.
“Rather than looking to developments in technology that are showing promising results, the Minister is playing to his own gallery by proposing to reduce cattle numbers without any concrete alternatives for farmers,” he said.
“Minister Ryan talked about anaerobic digestion in his recent interview. However, the Government have done nothing to make this feasible at farm level. In any event it will take years to put such infrastructure in place and it’s unclear that it would improve incomes for farmers,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said the Government cannot force through sectoral emission ceilings without complying with requirements in their own legislation.
“An economic and social impact assessment of the effect of a sectoral ceiling; how the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane are to reflected; and the risk of carbon leakage are all requirements under the legislation. The Government, including Minister Eamon Ryan, would be derelict in their duty if these issues are not given due regard as required in the act,” he said.